Joel Juarez Lopez
A former teacher, missions volunteer and translator, Joel became mission coordinator for Forever Changed in May of 2011. His primary responsibility is helping mission teams from the United States adjust to their new surroundings and convincing them they made the right decision in coming to Dorie’s Promise.
“Part of my responsibilities involves showing them the realities of life in Guatemala,” he says. “I want to show them the work that our staff does and how it is making a real difference in the lives of our children. For a long time I prayed to the Lord to open the doors where He wanted me to be. I know that He sent me here.”
Adopted himself as a child, Joel didn’t expect his career path to lead to our orphanage. When he reached high school, he chose to study for a teaching career. In addition to providing valuable training for his current position, it showed him that all children have different needs and learn in different ways. During his years as an elementary school teacher, he observed youngsters’ inherent creativity.
His first missions experience came as a volunteer translator for a medical team with Helps International, an organization that sends doctors throughout Guatemala. Learning about the ways they work and the need for organization, the experience prepared him to work with different mission teams that came to help in schools and rural villages.
Joel had opened his own translation office and was searching for new clients when Director Alejandra Diaz contacted him. Interviews with her and founder Heather Radu, followed by a tour of the home, instilled a desire to work at Dorie’s Promise. The comment that touched him the deepest: Heather telling him the children were her children and she was working hard to give them the best life that she possibly could.
In his free time Joel enjoys playing guitar and reading. He particularly likes learning about subjects that can help him with personal growth. Joel also enjoys spending time in social settings, especially friends and family. His faith is also important to every aspect of his life. Joel believes that God has a perfect plan for each person and will guide us down the right path as we pray and listen to Him.
“I feel blessed to be here, surrounded by children and good people that are giving love every day,” Joel says. “I can smell that love when I park my car in front of Dorie’s Promise. I always say that if you find your passion, you will never work again. I found my passion, which is to be here with kids and people who need help.”